Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Brothers Cobb Part One: Major General Howell Cobb, my 4th cousin 7x removed

Major General Howell Cobb

Howell Cobb was born in Jefferson County, GA on September 7, 1815.  He is my 4th cousin 7x removed.  He was named after his uncle, Howell Cobb, who was my 3rd cousin 8x removed.   The first Howell Cobb served in the 10th, 11th and 12th sessions of the United States Congress.  He resigned in 1812 to accept a Captain's commission in the U.S. Army.  After the War of 1812, he returned to his plantation, Cherry Hill, northwest of Louisville, Georgia.  He died there in 1818 and was buried in the family cemetery on that estate.

His namesake was raised and educated in Athens, GA graduating from the University of Georgia in 1834.  Cobb was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1836 and later became Solicitor General of the Western Judicial Circuit of Georgia. 

On May 26, 1835, he married Mary Ann Lamar.   She would give birth to 11 children between 1838 - 1861.  Four of these children would not survive childhood.  Three sons would serve along side their father in the Confederate Army.   They are all my 5th cousins, 6x removed.  

John Addison Cobb (1838-1900) enlisted in as a Private in Company H, Georgia 16th Infantry on April 20, 1861.  He was soon promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant of Company B, Georgia 2nd Infantry Battalion.  On August 15, 1861 he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant/Aide-de-camp on his father's staff.

Lamar Cobb (1840-1907) enlisted in as a Private in Company B, Georgia 2nd Infantry Battalion on April 16th, 1861.  He was promoted to Sergeant Major of the same Company on July 31, 1861.   On December 14, 1863 he was promoted to full Major/Assistant Adjutant General on his fathers' staff. 

Howell Cobb, Jr. (1842-1909) enlisted as a Private in Captain Stanley's Company,  Georgia 2nd Infantry Battalion on May 8, 1861.  He would later be consolidated into Captain Carlton's Troupe Artillery in Cobb's Georgia Legion.   Cobb's Georgia Legion was named after Howell Cobb, Sr.'s younger brother, Brigadier General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, who will be the focus of  "The Brothers Cobb Part Two".

Howell Cobb, Sr. is recognized as being one of the founders of the Confederate States of America.  He served as the President of the Provisional Confederate Congress when the delegates of the Secessionist States issued the creation of the Confederacy.  Cobb served as the Head of State of the Confederate Government for 2 weeks before Jefferson Davis was elected President. 

Prior to his service to the Confederate Government, Cobb was a five term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Speaker of the House (1849-1851), 40th Governor of the State of Georgia (1851-1853) and Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan (1857-1860).

White haired President Buchanan in the middle, Howell Cobb standing to his immediate right.

He served as President of a convention of the Seceded States that was assembled in Montgomery, AL on Feb. 24, 1861.  Under Cobb's guidance, these delegates would draft the Constitution for the new Confederacy.  He served as President for several sessions of the Confederate Provisional Congress, before he resigned for military service at the start of the war. 

Howell Cobb, Sr. entered the Confederate States Army as the Colonel of Company S, Georgia 16th Infantry on July 15, 1861.  On Feb. 13, 1862, he was appointed Brigadier General and assigned to command a brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia.  Between February and June of 1862, Cobb was instrumental in representing the Confederate States authorities in negotiating the exchange of prisoners of war with Union officials.  These efforts would lead to the Dix-Hill Cartel accord of July 1862.

Record showing Cobb's promotion to Brigadier General

While assigned to a command in the 2nd Brigade of General McLaw's Division, Cobb saw action during the Peninsula Campaign (southeastern Virginia) and the Seven Days Battles.   During the fighting at Crampton's Cap during the Battle of South Mountain, Cobb's brigade would play a key role arriving in time enough to delay Union advancement through the gap.  His brigade also fought with honor at Antietam.

On September 9, 1863, Cobb was promoted to Major General and placed in command of the District of Georgia and Florida. 

Record showing Cobb's promotion to Major General

Cobb's suggestion of a prisoner-of-war camp in southern Georgia that would be safe from Union invaders would eventually lead to the creation of Andersonville Prison. 

During Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and his subsequent March to the Sea, Howell Cobb was given command of the Georgia Reserve Corps. 

Order appointing Howell Cobb in command of Local Troops raised in Georgia

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, however, Confederate General Joe Johnston had not yet conceded defeat.  On Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865 Howell Cobb led the Confederate resistance at the Battle of Columbus, Georgia.  Cobb commanded a force of roughly 3,500 men.  They faced Union General James H. Wilson's force of 13,000 men.   Cobb instructed his men to dig in and defend the city on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee in the town of Girard, Alabama.   There his men used the trenches, breastworks and earthen forts that had been constructed earlier in the war.  Their main objective was to defend two covered bridges that connected Girard to Columbus.   Cobb knew Wilson would have to concentrate his men on these two narrow passes in order to enter the city.  In addition to fortifying their position, Cobb ordered the base of the two bridges to be wrapped in cotton and soaked with turpentine.  If the Confederates were unable to fend off Wilson's raiders, they could set fire to the bridge and destroy it as a last resort to prevent Wilson's troops from entering Columbus. 

Cobb's men would set fire to the lower left bridge during the battle

Wilson's men arrived at Girard around 2pm on April 16, 1865.  Union General Emory Upton was in charge of  Wilson's 4th Division of the Cavalry Corps.   Upton's division launched an attack on the lower left bridge.  Initially, they were met with little resistance.  This was however, a Confederate trap.  The Confederates had removed all the planks from the bridge on the Eastern side of the river.  They were hopeful to set fire to the bridge after it had filled up with Union soldiers.  Upton recognized this threat and ordered his retreat before this could happen.

Historical Marker where Cobb's troops destroyed the Bridge

With the lower bridge being burned before Union troops could cross, Upton was forced to concentrate his efforts to the upper bridge.  His assault started around 8pm, by 10pm the Confederate defenders in Girard had collapsed and started to retreat across the upper bridge back into Georgia.   In the dark of night Wilson's men raced across the bridge alongside their Confederate counterparts.   The darkness prohibited the men from noticing their enemies.   Wilson and his men entered the city around 11pm.   He took up headquarters in the Mott House due to it's proximity to the upper bridge. 

On April 17, 1865, General Wilson ordered the destruction of all resources in Columbus that could possibly aide the Confederate war effort.  By days end, much of Columbus would be rendered to ashes. 

Cobb had not succeeded in the defense of Columbus.  He would surrender at Macon, Georgia on April 20, 1865.

On Sept. 25. 1865, Howell Cobb signed an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Howell Cobb after the Civil War

After the war, Cobb returned home to Athens and resumed his law practice.  Although opposing Reconstruction, he refused to make any statements regarding it until he received a Presidential Pardon.  Howell Cobb received this document in early 1868.   Shortly after receiving his pardon, he made a series of speeches in the summer that bitterly denounced Reconstruction and the reigning Radical Republicans in Congress.

Cobb died on October 9, 1868 from a heart attack in New York City while vacationing at the Fith Hotel.  His body was returned to Athens where it was laid to rest in the Oconee Hill Cemetery.

Grave of Howell Cobb

My relation to Major General Howell Cobb:

Major General Howell Cobb (1815 - 1868)
is your 4th cousin 7x removed
John Addison Cobb (1783 - 1855)
Father of Major General Howell
John Cobb (1740 - 1809)
Father of John Addison
John Cobb (1700 - 1775)
Father of John
Robert Cobbs (1660 - 1727)
Father of John
Robert Cobbs (1626 - 1682)
Father of Robert
Ambrose Cobb (1662 - 1718)
Son of Robert
Robert Cobb (1687 - 1769)
Son of Ambrose
Elizabeth Cobb (1724 - 1780)
Daughter of Robert
Reuben Benjamin Eaton Moss Sr. (1737 - 1819)
Son of Elizabeth
Howell Cobb Moss Sr. (1773 - 1831)
Son of Reuben Benjamin Eaton
Benjamin Lucious Moss (1792 - 1847)
Son of Howell Cobb
James C. Moss (1824 - 1891)
Son of Benjamin Lucious
William Allen Moss (1859 - 1931)
Son of James C.
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
Daughter of William Allen
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
Daughter of Valeria Lee
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Phebe Teresa
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

I recently found this picture of Howell Cobb.  It's pretty remarkable how much this picture looks like me.

Howell Cobb circa 1840

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